Up Close and On Fire Ep 12 – Dustin Douglas – CD Review


By CJ Marsicano

Dustin Douglas is a veteran guitarist/singer/songwriter from Wilkes-Barre, PA who has already racked up quite a few musical miles, both as one-third of the power trio Lemongelli, and as a guitarist with the Badlees after a personnel shift in 2009. Continue reading Up Close and On Fire Ep 12 – Dustin Douglas – CD Review

Up Close and On Fire – Corners of Sanctuary – CD Review



The band for this week’s episode of Up Front And On Fire left me in a bit of a conundrum. I was presented with five of their releases to go through for this week’s episode of the show. Unfortunately, two of them were not properly tagged, so they couldn’t be reviewed. Bands, please double-check your ID3 tags in your mp3 files before you send them to radio stations, podcasts, and blogs, and submit your track listings to Gracenote as well if you’re sending CD copies to stations – it only takes five minutes to do this in iTunes. (ten if you’re careful with your typing!)

Continue reading Up Close and On Fire – Corners of Sanctuary – CD Review

Up Close and On Fire – Candlelight Red – CD Review

Written By CJ M.
Produced by Spitfire and Kickazz


Candlelight Red are a four-piece modern rock band from Williamsport, PA with two full-length albums and one EP to their credit. For this week’s episode of Up Front And On Fire, I’ve decided to concentrate on their most recent release, Reclamation, released in 2013 on the Imagen label. (The band is still active, having toured with a renewed vigor in 2016, and are planning new material in 2017, per a New Years Day post on their Facebook page.)

The quartet of vocalist Ryan Hoke, guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Edge, bassist/vocalist Jamie Morrat, and drummer Brian Dugan hits all the right touchstones for 21st Century mainstream modern rock – a vocalist that alternates between clean melodies and grimy screams with ease, downtuned guitar work that features tight crunchy rhythms and fluid leads, and drums that do their job of keeping the beat and knowing just the right places to bust out the right kind of fill.


The production on Reclamation is also listener friendly, enhancing the band’s main sound with ambient and unobtrusive keyboards, leaving Dugan’s drums dry and compressed for a truly heavy sound (rather than the excessive cement room echo sound from certain 80’s metal records), and occasionally throwing in a shade of reverb on Hoke’s vocals for emphasis. If this band doesn’t find themselves at a higher level in their career before 2017 ends, there’s something wrong.


Highlighted tracks:
Broken Glass

Like A Disease


Up Close and On Fire – Max Schang – Review


Written By CJ M
Produced by Spitfire and Kickazz

Full disclosure: I normally do not listen to modern day blues artists. When I am in the mood to listen to something in the blues genre (as opposed to heavily blues-influenced rock acts), I tend to gravitate mainly towards the classic recordings of legends like Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Blind Lemon Jefferson, or the more recent, rawer blues acts that the Fat Possum label brought to wider recognition in the 1990’s like R.L. Burnside and T-Model Ford.

Continue reading Up Close and On Fire – Max Schang – Review

Girls Girls Girls: The Crüe Lives On

While the close of 2015 saw the departure of the relentless Mötley Crüe, their spirit carries on in the form of all-woman tribute group Girls Girls Girls. Formed in 2007, these women first got their start performing at a strip club in New Jersey. Over the next two years they would open for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Webster Hall, NYC, play a mixed media show with Chuck Klosterman at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, appear on VH1’s “That Metal Show”, and play Shamrockfest at RFK Stadium. Continue reading Girls Girls Girls: The Crüe Lives On

Review Hej from Sweden – Backroom Blues Volume One

bb recHej from Sweden, America!  I’m the Grouch and I do music reviews.  Now, you might wonder why I’m called the Grouch – I’ll give you a hint it isn’t because I am known for my diplomacy or subtle commentary.
The other day Bongo Boy asked me to give a listen to some of their records and jot down my thoughts.  Seeing as I have a soft spot in my old Grouchy heart for Blues and Blues based rock, I thought the album to start with would be Backroom Blues Volume One.The album starts off with Miss Stacy by Plainfield Slim & The Groundhawgs:  First of all, if you have even an ounce of soul you will feel the groove on this track. I mean the name of the band alone ought to peak your interest.SO what is it that Plainfield Slim and his band of Groundhawgs do?  The answer is simple; they blow the roof off.  The guitars sound killer as they go into what sounds like a Texas influenced jam – then comes a wicked voice.  I get a big goofy smile on my face everytime I hear that vocal snarl.  The voice combined with the slide guitar and the harp in the background just scream bad ass rock and roll.  I swear I even hear what could be a nod to Cab Calloway – although Plainfield Slim isn’t singing Heidi-Heidi-Heidi-Ho.From here the album moves on Sugar Rush by Blind Lemon Pledge.  This song is for the harp lovers.  As an armature blues harp player, I respect this man’s ability.    Well done, well done indeed.Next up is a track by the Paula Boggs Band, Paula referes to their stuff as “soulgrass”, which is just a really cool word and reminds me of a band I used to be in – the guitar player insisted on calling our stuff “cow punk”, but I digress.   So what it is that Paula does?  She sings WELL in front of a band that just oozes cool and makes one very impressive amount of noise.  Simply put if you want to hear the electric blues done right, you have to check out this band. Man, I hope these guys come to Sweden!

Big Bone Daddy follows up with another rocking track that compels the listener to feel the vibe.  What can I say about this track other than the band is rock solid, the singer has a prototypical voice for bad ass blues and the guitar player can do some magic with his axe.  Although the style is vastly different, I get the same feeling listening to this man that I got when I first heard Jeff Beck.  The riffs are subtle yet incredibly powerful.  Well done, Sir, well done.

Next on, what is clearly a great album, is Vin Matteo.  His track Inside My Head is one of my favorite tracks on the album.  Now, to be honest, aside from the chorus, I cannot really tell what he is singing – and I couldn’t care less.  He could be singing nonsense and it would still sound great.  Vin’s voice fits the genre well and his guitar rocks. What more can you ask for?

Track six is another offering from Big Bone Daddy.  Dad doesn’t disappoint.  You really have to listen to these guys.  They come off like some laid back old souls who can just rip it up the and grin sardonically while mesmerizing the crowd.   Did I mention that their guitar player rocks?  Bongo Boy

KickBend, a bunch of guys from near Chicago bring their track Gone.  What can be said about these guys?  They do what they do and they do it well.  Coming out of Chicago, I would not expect any thing else from them.  It is obvious that these guys were paying attention, because they know how to play.

Kimon and The Prophets contributes to the album with a somewhat subdued blues number called New York’s Finest.  I enjoyed the slowed down tempo and the keyboard work combined with the slide guitar is emotion filled.

Vin Matteo is back with Rat Race.  Man, I dig this guy.  Again, I really don’t know what he is singing aside from frequent invocations of the words Rat Race – Dude, do you talk that way as well, or is it just your singing voice?  In any case, it sounds great when backed by your guitar.  Keep it up!

The album concludes with the Roadhouse Sons doing a track by the same name.  I can see why Bongo Boy put this track last.  It has everything an archetypical blues song needs.  The music follows the blues formula to a T – the singer has a good voice and the guitar player has some lightening.  When those qualities, given the importance of the Roadhouse in the blues mythos, are combined with the fact that the chorus is: We are the Roadhouse sons. We are the chosen ones, there is really no better way to end a blues album.

So, what is the bottom line?  If you dig blues and blues based rock you will enjoy this
album.  It is definitely worthy of inclusion in any serious collector’s stash.
Now if Bongo Boy would organize a Backroom Blues tour, then I would be really
excited, until then I guess I’ll just have to dig the album. – The Grouch | Sweden

Email theheadgaijin@grouchygaijin.com


Album available at https://bongoboyrecords.com/backroom-blues/